Best Handheld Belt Sander (How to Choose)

Published on: January 21, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by David Rowan

Sanding is the most important part of any woodworking project whether you’re making furniture or doing a home improvement project.

For sanding jobs, belt sanders are the most reliable, versatile, and easy-to-operate sander. And if you get the handheld belt sander, it’ll allow you to work more comfortably. They are versatile, lightweight and even sometimes can be used as a stationary belt sander.

best handheld belt sander

If you’re able to get the right model for your job, you will be able to complete your project easily and nicely. All you need to be concerned about is some basic features and your requirements and you’ll be able to choose the right one.

In this article, I’ve tried to inform you about those features and some of the best handheld belt sanders on the market.

Hope this will help you to choose.

Handheld Belt Sander

A handheld belt sander is the most used sander among the two types of the belt sander. You can use this sander to deal with your maximum sanding project. It comes in different shapes & sizes and the most interesting thing is they are lighter than the stationary belt sander, this is the reason people like this sander most.

On a handheld belt sander, the sanding belt is at the bottom of the tool and the position of the sanding belt makes it ideal for sanding floors or other stationary work-piece. They come with variable speed settings which makes these power tools versatile and you’ll have more control over your job.

You can also use some of these sanders like stationary sanders by operating them upside down. But don’t try to use a regular one in this way for safety purposes.

Types of Handheld Belt Sander

You will track down various kinds of handheld belt sanders there. Here, we will examine two sorts of sanders. 

1. Mini handheld belt sander, and 

2. Power belt sander.

Mini Handheld Belt Sander

This is a convenient tool that you can use to finish wood sand or metal. This is reasonable for lightweight sanding fill-in as it does not guarantee so much power. You can do some crushing, managing, and evening out with this instrument.

These are usually extremely conservative and lightweight, which gives you intelligent commands on the machine.

Power Belt Sander

As opposed to the mini-handheld belt sander, a power belt sander is more centered around power. They can be a piece weighty and harder to move, yet they in all actuality do have incredible power. You can do a great deal of weighty sanding, crushing, or evening-out work with this one.

They can be both versatile and fixed sanding, contingent upon their functionalities.

Features of a Handheld Belt Sander

A handheld belt sander is a handy tool for most sanding projects. But you can only realize this fact if you get the right one from a lot of variations. You can easily choose the perfect one by considering some basic facts, like-


It would be better if you own a powerful handheld belt sander. Usually, belt sanders come with motors of 6 Amp- 10 Amp. The higher the amps, the better the performance. Though the powerful sanders are a bit expensive, the performance will definitely meet your expectations. So choose the one that can easily handle your project.

Do you want to read more about Best Drum Sander – click here


As mentioned earlier, you’ll find this type of sander available in different sizes. You should choose the size with which you’re comfortable working.

You also need to check the belt size of the sander. Belt sanders are available in two sizes, 3×21 inches, and 4×24 inches. The first one is smaller and compact so you’ll be able to handle it easily and perfect for small projects. But if you need to deal with large projects often, 4×24 inches sander will work great.

features of a handheld belt sander


Another important fact you should consider while buying a handheld belt sander is its weight. Because the weight of a belt sander determines its ease of use and compatibility. You’ll find belt sanders in-between 5lbs- 15lbs. You can choose any of them according to the type of job you’ll do with the sander.

For example, if you need to deal with misaligned boards, only a heavy belt sander will help you to complete the project properly.

If you have to do overhead or vertical sanding during home improvement, a lightweight belt sander will be the best choice.


For speed, you can choose from the single and variable speed belt sander. In single-speed sanders, you won’t be able to change or control the speed limit according to your project requirement.

But with a belt sander with variable speed, you’ll have the opportunity to control the speed whenever and however your job is needed. This is why these sanders are the most popular ones nowadays.

Dust Collection

This is the most important feature you should check before buying any sander. Sanding produces a huge amount of dust and dirt which makes your workplace a real mess. So pick a belt sander with an effective dust collection process. Check that the bag of the onboard dust canister is large enough that you don’t need to keep emptying the bag.

You’ll also find some models with dust ports or some which allow you to remove the dust bag and connect directly with your shop vac.

Read more: 5 Best Sanders for Removing Paint – Tested, Rated & Reviewed

Belt Grit

When the sanding belt and your workpiece come in contact it creates resistance. If the motor of the sander isn’t able to overcome the resistance, the belt may slip, skip, or stall. Even if the motor is powerful enough, the belt may wear down rapidly. So try to choose a belt with a grit of 80, 120, or 220.


Before purchasing a handheld belt sander, you must check that the machine is made with strong materials. So pay attention to the drive wheel, tracking knob, platen, or idler wheel.

Quick Solutions

What Are the Steps for the Belt Sander Woodworking Tool?

How to use a belt sander:

Step 1: Choose Your Belt. Before you commence sanding, you will need to settle on the proper sanding belt for the work.

Step 2: Clamp Material. Secure the fabric you’re sanding to your surface with clamps.

Step 3: Start Sanding. Turn on the sander, and leave it to run for a couple of seconds to urge up to hurry.

Step 4: Conclude.

Can You Use a Belt Sander on Furniture?

Best Sander for Furniture

The belt sander is among the simplest sanders for furniture, especially if you would like to sand down a tabletop or dresser. These big jobs are straight up the belt sanders alley. It’ll strip the paint and obtain it backtrack to the wood in no time.

Why Do Sanding Belts Break?

Despite the friction and high-speed flexing that sanding belts endure, belt seams rarely fail. Heat, humidity, and age can come up with belt seam failures, but they are not the sole causes. If the matter persists, exchange the sander or have a guarantee service center check the strain setting.

View Our Recommended Top 5 Best Handheld Belt Sanders-

The strength, speed, weight, dust collection, and durability of the handheld belt sander have been discussed step by step for the convenience of your project work.

1. Makita Handheld Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag (Model No 9403)

  • Motor: 11 Amp;
  • speed: 1,640 FPM;
  • Belt: 4 × 24- inches;
  • Weight: 13 pounds;
  • Application: heavy-duty wood applications. 

Makita 9403 model is one of those rare breeds that will never disappoint you with its performance. It is powerful, heavy, and aggressive. The positive side of a slightly heavy handheld sander is, you won’t need to push it to do the job. The sander will glide through the length of the wood easily due to its weight while removing tons of material at the same time.

A common complaint about handheld sanders is a small dust bag. As these machines are meant for small projects and/or to be used for a short duration, hence the small dust bag makes sense. The good thing about the dust bag I got with this Makita 9403 sander is, it swivels 360 degrees. Despite its small size, its swiveling feature makes it more convenient.

This small beast is very expensive. For professional work, it’s worth every penny. But for a craftsperson or beginner, a less pricey one will suffice to do the job.

Things We Liked

  • Quiet and convenient;
  • Powerful motor;
  • High-quality tool;
  • Suitable for demanding applications.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive;
  • Small dust bag.

2. SKIL 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Handheld Belt Sander (Model 7510-01)

  • Motor: 6 Amp;
  • Belt: 3 × 18- inches;
  • Weight: 6.75 pounds;
  • Application:  wood, steel, and paint removal.

For occasional DIY projects or seasonal crafting, this 7510-01 Sandcat sander from SKIL will cost just a few bucks to do the job right. The features are meant for beginners, making those surprisingly easy and convenient. The dust bag removal or belt change or tracking the belt or using the ‘lock-on’ everything is stress-free with this handheld sander.

This one is almost half the weight of top-rated professional sanders. The advantage of owning a lightweight sander is, you can use it vertically if the situation demands it. This unit is lacking the power for long-term demanding or heavy-duty applications. But it is versatile; you can use it not just to polish wood, but also to strip paint from a piece of old furniture or just round up a sharp edge and so on.

Things We Liked

  • Cheap price;
  • Suitable for tight corners;
  • Easier to use;
  • Larger dust bag.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Might spark;
  • No excessive pressure.

3. Makita 8.8 Amp (3-x 24)-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander (Model No 9920)

  • Motor: 8.8 Amp;
  • speed:  690-1,440 FPM;
  • Belt: 3 × 24- inches;
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds;
  • Application:  wood, steel, and paint removal.

If you can’t compromise the precision of your work even for the most minor tasks of woodworking, then Makita 9920 sander is made just for you. Most of the features of this sander are automated. For example, belt tracking and speed control will save you downtime by adjusting those features manually. That results in better productivity and workmanship.

Most of the handheld sanders of the market are made for woodwork especially. But this model is versatile. With its variable speed, you can set the speed for wood, metal, and any other materials that fall in between.

The attached 16 ft power cord eliminates the use of additional power cords in the workshop or any other remote project areas. Besides, with its sides and nose, you can polish the most oddly placed surfaces like the sides of the door or wall or any other fixed surfaces. 

This machine is not cheap; one with a tight budget may need to break the bank to invest in this. However, considering the versatility and ease of use, I won’t stop anyone from doing so!

Things We Liked

  • Automated;
  • Long power cord;
  • Variable speed settings;
  • For both wood and metal.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No cons.

4. Hitachi (3 × 21)-Inch Handheld Belt Sander (Model No SB8V2)

  • Motor: 9 Amp, 1,020-Watt;
  • speed:  820-1,475 FPM;
  • Belt: 3 × 21- inches;
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds;
  • Application:  wood, steel, and paint removal.

Maybe this one is the best high-quality handheld sander you can get at a low price. The only thing that may bother you to order this, and that is the mixed reviews this sander got on Amazon. But there is no harm in trying your luck with this Hitachi SB8V2 sander as long as it is covered by a 5 years warranty, the longest warranty you can get for a sander.

Let me start with how comfortable it is to use. The speed can be set by a dia knob which is the most convenient than using a switch or trigger. Besides, both the primary and auxiliary handles are covered with soft grip materials to eliminate fatigue on hands.

The entire machine is well-built, and even the small parts are made to be wear-resistant. It is really surprising how the quality is ensured in this sander even at such a cheap price.

Things We Liked

  • Budget-friendly;
  • Variable speed settings;
  • Long-lasting parts;
  • A long warranty is offered. 

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No cons.

5. CRAFTSMAN Heavy Handheld Belt Sander (3X21) inch

  • Motor: 7 Amp;
  • speed: N/A;
  • Belt: 3 × 21- inches;
  • Weight: 6.64 pounds;
  • Max 800 FPM For fast material removal.

There are times in life when you lack the ability to deal with uncomfortable matters for a prolonged time. We can’t have that control over every matter, but for choosing a handheld sander, we can surely find one that is the most comfortable. This craftsman sander comes with an adjustable handle that can be fixed in positions depending on your requirement. I wish the top-brand sanders had this feature!

It comes with variable speed settings, but it is not for use on materials other than wood. The speed is to be set depending on the type of application you and the material need. This sander is affordable, so, if you are a wood crafting person, you can consider this sander for your projects.

Things We Liked

  • LED work light included;
  • Affordable price;
  • Adjustable handle.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Suitable for only woodworking.


So we can say that choosing the right belt sander requires considering features like motor, power, speed, weight, size, etc.. and by reading this guideline you must have known why they are important.

Now you only need to check the provided list and select the one that can help you in your project.

One thing I like to remember is that you must be careful while using a handheld belt sander or any other power tool. Always protect yourself with a helmet, gloves, goggles, etc.

You Might Also Like:

Rate this post

About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Leave a Comment